Francis Ngannou may no longer compete in the UFC, but he’s still keeping a watchful eye on his division, especially with a new champion crowned this past Saturday night.
The free agent Ngannou watched Jon Jones’ coronation after he made quick work of Ciryl Gane with a lightning-quick submission at UFC 285.
The now-former champion admits he wasn’t all that surprised that Jones won. He was shocked, however, that the fight ended in such rapid-fire fashion.
“I knew that if Jones showed up in a good space mentally, not like his last two fights, he’s going to prevail in this fight,” Ngannou said on his YouTube channel. “I didn’t see this fight [being] so short. I think this fight could have been longer. I was surprised the way that the fight ended.
“I think even seeing Ciryl’s reaction, he was surprised as well, because he wasn’t even defending. He wasn’t thinking that a submission would come from where he was at. That was quite a great performance from Jones.”
While the fight’s speed was a surprise, Ngannou knew Jones would have superior grappling. In his own five-round fight against Gane back in January 2021, he dominated the second half of the fight with takedowns and ground control to earn a unanimous decision.
“Not very surprising, because I knew if I could outwrestle Ciryl, Jon would be another story,” Ngannou said. “He would have a hard night if Jon would lay hands on him.
“What I do know is Jon was rushing. Jon didn’t want to give him space because he I think he was afraid of something. Maybe of getting exhausted at some point, not be able to grab him, so he was chasing him from the first minute to grab him. He walked out pretty good, but it tells me something. He wasn’t very confident. He was rushing, which is good for him.”
Following Jones’ win, Ngannou congratulated the new champ on Twitter, adding he was still the heavyweight king despite not holding the belt. In response, Jones called him a “big ol’ p****” before turning his attention toward a future fight against ex-UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic.
Ngannou didn’t directly address Jones’ vulgar outburst, but he said that’s still a fight he wishes he could pursue.
“A fight that I would have liked to have, but unfortunately we are not there,” Ngannou said about facing Jones. “That fight didn’t happen and probably will never happen now that he’s on a very long contract with the UFC. So that’s not happening anymore.”
Ngannou appears happy with his decision to leave the UFC and doesn’t seem interested in ever returning — a stance UFC President Dana White mirrored in his comments during UFC 285 fight week as well.
Meanwhile, Jones inked a new eight-fight deal with the UFC prior to his matchup against Gane. So by all accounts, he’ll spend the rest of his career with the promotion while attempting to add more accolades to his impressive resume.